View Full Version : Carb cleaner vs. brake cleaner


chud
12-24-2007, 07:20 PM
What's the difference between carb and brake cleaner? Any reason they can't be used interchangeably?

Elroy
12-24-2007, 07:40 PM
Ya

It's kind of like a carpenter usings a ballpeen to drive nails. It's does work but it is just wrong.

If you like, Elroy could go into more detail. That is if you really want to know.

Danglerb
12-24-2007, 08:03 PM
Either I would "guess" would be ok on metal parts, but on non metal, I would use stuff that says its OK for that type of material.

Carb cleaner isn't as aggressive I don't think as brake cleaner, so it might not work that well on brakes.

MXtras
12-24-2007, 08:27 PM
The primary difference is that carb cleaner is NOT necessarily oil free, while brake cleaner has to be.

They both work for cleaning crap. I prefer brake cleaner for just about everything that mineral spirits can not be used to clean.

Scott

Deafautotech
12-24-2007, 08:34 PM
i am use most of brake cleaner to clean oil leaking so i can check if it will coming leaking or not... carb cleaner is " clean and little lube" as my opinion which i dont try to use for clean the oil leaking or try to clean...

katit
12-24-2007, 08:42 PM
I dislike both because of smell. I use WD40 to clean and soften gunk and then after it's clean I clean it with brake clean to remove andy residue. This way I don't get high from that smell

Deafautotech
12-24-2007, 08:46 PM
I dislike both because of smell. I use WD40 to clean and soften gunk and then after it's clean I clean it with brake clean to remove andy residue. This way I don't get high from that smell

yeah that's true... i am trying to avoid to be "high" from smell .... :bowdown:

jimmycrackcorn
12-24-2007, 08:47 PM
like the post above carb cleaner leaves a residue, while brake cleaner for the most part does not.

I have to warn anyone who uses brake parts cleaner to clean throttle valves and around the intake, what comes out of the tail pipe when started is very toxic....

rsanter
12-24-2007, 08:54 PM
brake cleaner is basically alcohol and will evaporate with no residue. you must use this in brake system work.
carb cleaner has some other stuff in that will leave a residue. for many thing they can be used interchangable but for some things you must use the specified solvent in order to break the crud you want to clean.
for most things I prefer brake cleaner

bob

Deafautotech
12-24-2007, 08:56 PM
like the post above carb cleaner leaves a residue, while brake cleaner for the most part does not.

I have to warn anyone who uses brake parts cleaner to clean throttle valves and around the intake, what comes out of the tail pipe when started is very toxic....

oh yeah!! it is awful! one tech did that and it got worse!! but long time tech always use carb and throttle body cleaner to do vacuum leaking to make engine run high if there is air leaking... FOrd have used a lot of plastic with rubber gaskets on intake maifolds...

Fedwrench
12-24-2007, 09:02 PM
Not all cleaners are created equal. As has been mentioned earlier Carb cleaner has an oil base and if used on brake systems, can cause pad/shoe contamination and grabbing. Brake cleaner is an excellent all purpose cleaner but, you have to be familiar with the brand you're using. Some will damage plastics, most won't. There is a separate Electrical Contact Cleaner that dries immediately, leaves no residue, is safe on plastic but, is expensive. Brake cleaner is also harmful to your lungs and well being. Avoid breathing it whenever possible.

bmwpower
12-24-2007, 10:29 PM
When using any product you should look at the ingredients to determine it's suitability.

Not all carb cleaners contain petroleum oils. The kind I use (SuperTech from WalMart) is nothing more than acetone, so no residue.

Acetone is bad for plastics and rubber, so don't use it on those parts. For drying wet parts or getting them residue free it work great.

jay50
12-24-2007, 10:38 PM
Get GM top engine cleaner if you want the best for cleaning throttle bodies. You will never use anything else again. You can get it in spray can or bottle.

l_bilyk
12-24-2007, 10:46 PM
Most of products I use are CRC since they offer best value in terms of ounces/dollar. When we get cases of them we also get MSDS sheets. There is little difference between brake cleaner and throttle body cleaner. The specific gravity, volatility, etc. were almost the same. The throttle body stuff is purely a cocktail of organic solvents and is supposed to be safe for plastics. Brake cleaner contains some alcohol, and they say it is not safe for plastics but from my experience the CRC stuff is OK on plastic. The chlorinated stuff was quite different. Much more dense, and not OK for plastic. Smells different too.

eschoendorff
12-25-2007, 08:17 AM
Also note that throttle body cleaner and carb cleaner are sometimes different....

wilbilt
12-25-2007, 10:01 AM
You can't even get good carb cleaner anymore. The stuff that would eat the skin off your hands worked best.

SpiderGearsMan
12-25-2007, 10:09 AM
non chlorinated brakleen makes just as good a fireball as carb cleaner on a hot exhaust manifold

Uncle Buck
12-26-2007, 09:35 AM
You can't even get good carb cleaner anymore. The stuff that would eat the skin off your hands worked best.

I wonder when they stopped making the stuff in that formula? I have an old gallon of carb cleaner with the little basket that I bought and used around 1992-1994 and it did cause the top layer of skin on my hands to die and drop off! I still have that gallon of cleaner but I do not use it very often.

wilbilt
12-26-2007, 05:01 PM
I wonder when they stopped making the stuff in that formula? I have an old gallon of carb cleaner with the little basket that I bought and used around 1992-1994 and it did cause the top layer of skin on my hands to die and drop off! I still have that gallon of cleaner but I do not use it very often.

You might think about transferring it to a new can (properly labeled, of course) every couple of years. I lost an unopened gallon when it ate through the bottom of the can!

T56 Impala
12-26-2007, 06:29 PM
CRC stuff rocks. IF.... you can ever get your hands on some XS-102, by all means, try it. It is wonderful stuff. Its made by CRC for ...... well.... a goverment agency. It is used in a few food processing plants for cleaning carbon deposits. Its clear, odorless (Really, no smell at all!) and will clean just about anything. Plastic, rubber, stainless, pot metal.... anything.

Stanger
12-26-2007, 06:47 PM
I lost an unopened gallon when it ate through the bottom of the can!
I also have a small can that is starting to leak. I wondered why, now I know. I already used the cleaner but have continued using the can and parts basket with lacquer thinner for cleaning.
Grant

kartracer55
12-26-2007, 09:37 PM
Carb cleaner is more flammable? lol

I use carb cleaner for cleaning intake parts and diagnosing vacuum leaks. It also serves as a "ghetto" starting fluid when troubleshooting no starts

Brake Cleaner cuts oil and grease very well, and doesnt burn cuts quite as much, overall more pleasant.

3M makes an INSANE Carb/Throttle body cleaner though. It cuts gum and varnish like its nothing.

Uncle Buck
12-26-2007, 11:09 PM
You might think about transferring it to a new can (properly labeled, of course) every couple of years. I lost an unopened gallon when it ate through the bottom of the can!

Thank you for that advise, I noticed a bit of rust on the can but I had no idea it would be that aggressive! :wtf:

WVBrady
12-27-2007, 12:10 PM
I don't remember if this has been mentioned, but I read on another forum than throttle body cleaner is expressly formulated not to damage the special coating inside the throttle body. I always look to make sure that then can says "throttle body cleaner", rather than carburetor cleaner.

Brady

NITRO-BTU
01-28-2008, 11:00 AM
I dislike both because of smell. I use WD40 to clean and soften gunk and then after it's clean I clean it with brake clean to remove andy residue. This way I don't get high from that smell

HELLO THERE, DOES WD-40 REALLY DISOLVE THE GUM AND VARNISH IN CARBS? IS IT BETTER THAN GUMOUT CARB SPRAY CLEANER FOR DISOLVING THE GUNK? FOR ANY OF YOU WHO HAVE USED THE WD-40 AND CAN TESTIFY, GOOD OR BAD, PLEASE FORWARD YOUR RESULTS. THANKS, JIM

katit
01-28-2008, 11:06 AM
No, I don't use WD40 for carbs or brakes. It doesn't work on carbs either.
I was referring more to cleaning engine leaks, oil pans, etc..

g9m3c
09-03-2010, 01:14 AM
Brake cleaner all the way! Just be sure to use gloves because the stuff will irritate the heck out of your skin.

treasureseeker
09-03-2010, 01:39 AM
Brake clean will melt certain plastics and one of them will swell some rubber seals like some O rings in a cars PS system. I think it is carburetor cleaner. When I worked for a Honda dealership (I did the used cars) I made the mistake of cleaning a cylinder head with brake clean. The exhaust from the car no matter how many times I changed the oil was toxic with a faint yellow smoke and my sense of smell was affected for months just for running it for a few minutes.

Seanbev24
09-03-2010, 01:43 AM
Both work well for diagnosing small cuts on my hands :bounce:

I use carb/tb cleaner for carbs/throttle bodies/intakes and for finding vacuum leaks.

I use brake cleaner for damn near everything else. If you took away my brake cleaner, I'd probably stare at the car for a while, throw a wrench, and head for the nearest happy hour :beer:

cglasgow
09-03-2010, 06:53 AM
Carb cleaner is more flammable? lol


Depends on the brake cleaner. CRC Brakleen in the red can, for example, is a chlorinated solvent and does not burn (but releases toxic gases when exposed to flame). Brakleen in the green can, on the other hand, is non-chlorinated and is quite flammable. Smells like aerosol carb cleaner, in fact -- I expect that they are chemically quite similar.

So we've got at least four different substances being discussed in this thread: chlorinated brake cleaner, non-chlorinated brake cleaner, aerosol carb cleaner, and "dip" carb cleaner in the gallon can. All quite different from one another. Err.... five products -- forgot throttle body cleaner....

benny27
09-03-2010, 07:56 AM
brake cleaner does not hurt if you have cuts but carb cleaner hurts.:mad:

Keep
09-03-2010, 08:15 AM
Surprised someone has not mentioned this already:

Do NOT use brake cleaner to clean parts prior to welding. The off gases can kill.

impulse922
09-03-2010, 09:17 AM
Surprised someone has not mentioned this already:

Do NOT use brake cleaner to clean parts prior to welding. The off gases can kill.

i was just about to post the same thing... Phosgene gas is deadly shit.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vF3X0GaPUeo/Sm3iotyWwzI/AAAAAAAAAmM/kw_229iGrcc/s1600-h/87c8ee40.jpg

Davefr
09-03-2010, 09:53 AM
You can't even get good carb cleaner anymore. The stuff that would eat the skin off your hands worked best.

It's still avail. At least Berryman's B-9 Chem Dip.

Store the pail on a wooden pallet. A corrosive action will take place and eat the can if stored on a concrete floor.

back2class
09-03-2010, 10:41 AM
Holy Crap!

blarf
04-14-2011, 05:35 PM
Depends on the brake cleaner. CRC Brakleen in the red can, for example, is a chlorinated solvent and does not burn (but releases toxic gases when exposed to flame). Brakleen in the green can, on the other hand, is non-chlorinated and is quite flammable. Smells like aerosol carb cleaner, in fact -- I expect that they are chemically quite similar.

Just to revive an old thread, the CRC red and green Brakleen are the same thing nowadays. At least in California. They're both labeled as being non-chlorinated, and their MSDS's looked strikingly similar to me (mostly a combo of alcohol with some nasty organic funk mixed in — chlorinated or not don't breathe it if you can help it). When I e-mailed CRC I got this response:

Dear Sir:

The product in both cans are the same. The two cans are offered to
meet our customer requirements.

Christine Richie
Technical Information Specialist
CRC Industries, Inc.

The 'power jet' new nozzles are nice, much easier to get the straw to fit into and get a nice controlled flow.

oldtools
04-14-2011, 07:08 PM
Be very careful with brake cleaner. A lot of rubbers (like gasket and seal) are not compatible with brake cleaner. They will melt if expose to it. I accidentally spray some on my cm portable plastic box. The rubber portion just melted. I will get a pic post later. My friend clean his ac compressor and all the seals melted causing massive refrigerant leak. That is am expensive $600 lesson learned. DON'T EXPOSE RUBBER TO BRAKE CLEANER!!!

diggerrick
04-14-2011, 09:33 PM
I love both.

I don't know about now, but in the '90's I saw a lot of Top Fuel teams cleaning their engine parts with CRC Brakleen. It used to have a warning not to let it come in contact with rubber parts, like brake piston seals. Maybe it still does- I haven't looked in years.

I've never had a problem welding after cleaning parts with brake cleaner because I let it evaporate and wipe it before I weld. You have problems when you spray parts that are clamped together and the stuff puddles in a pocket somewhere that it can't evaporate quickly. Do whatever you do at your own risk, but I wouldn't want to weld anything with puddles of brake cleaner hidden in a nook somewhere either.

And yes, the Berryman's carb cleaner is awesome, but even when I use nitrile gloves my wife complains about the smell and I know what I won't be doing that night.

cglasgow
04-14-2011, 09:47 PM
Just to revive an old thread, the CRC red and green Brakleen are the same thing nowadays. At least in California. They're both labeled as being non-chlorinated, and their MSDS's looked strikingly similar to me (mostly a combo of alcohol with some nasty organic funk mixed in chlorinated or not don't breathe it if you can help it). When I e-mailed CRC I got this response:


Dear Sir:

The product in both cans are the same. The two cans are offered to
meet our customer requirements.

Christine Richie
Technical Information Specialist
CRC Industries, Inc.

The 'power jet' new nozzles are nice, much easier to get the straw to fit into and get a nice controlled flow.

Interesting. I wonder which customers require that the product be in a green can and which customers require that it be in a red can, if that's the only difference? ;-) Not that I'm doubting it (haven't looked at either in a while), but it seems silly to have the same product under two different part numbers if the only difference is the color of the can....

mtkst19
04-14-2011, 09:57 PM
new crc/napa formula brake clean is shit. you get so use to the smell of brake clean you know when it is off. So napa sends me down the "new" napa/crc (red can) brake clean and i spray it-- smells like kerosene and leaves a residue.

compare the ingredients to old can-- same except for the addition of petroleum distillate. This is brake clean not lube...

so now napa's blue can house brand is on sale for 2.50 per can-- ill use it and stock up and grab 5 cases until it goes on sell again.

carb clean-- yeah i made the mistake of leaving a throttle body in the old can style over night. Came in the next morning and it was almost gone. carb cleaner ate the piss out of it.

wafrederick
04-14-2011, 10:02 PM
Brake cleaner is also good for something else,killing small bees nests.Spray them with brake clean,the bees go dead quickly.If you don't have a can of the spray to get rid of bees on hand,use brake cleaner.

treasureseeker
04-14-2011, 10:10 PM
I did that work but the bees that got away were back at the nest by the next day.

diggerrick
04-14-2011, 10:28 PM
Carb cleaner works for bees too - it'll take them right out of the air.

bgott
04-14-2011, 10:38 PM
If you are just trying to wash the dust out of brakes, or brake fluid from a leaky wheel cylinder, the best brake clean you can get is a water hose. If you have an axle seal leak, though, you are back to the store bought stuff.

oldtools
04-15-2011, 10:53 AM
Brake cleaner will only melt certain plastic and rubber. Here is a handle on my cm plastic tool box and a plastic seal.

bgott
04-15-2011, 05:39 PM
Brake cleaner will only melt certain plastic and rubber. Here is a handle on my cm plastic tool box and a plastic seal.

Years ago the hot set-up was a Makita 7.2 volt rechargeable flashlight/drill kit. I found out the hard way that the plastic the flashlight was made of was impervious to brake cleaner, the plastic the drill was made of wasn't.

subarub4
08-06-2011, 11:42 AM
Question If I ran out of brake cleaner can I use CRC throttle body cleaner to clean off my flywheel?

ImportTuner
08-06-2011, 11:56 AM
Question If I ran out of brake cleaner can I use CRC throttle body cleaner to clean off my flywheel?

You probably could but throttle body cleaner is alot more expensive than brake cleaner ...

ptschram
08-06-2011, 12:01 PM
Surprised someone has not mentioned this already:

Do NOT use brake cleaner to clean parts prior to welding. The off gases can kill.

And once again, bad info is spread around.

Only the halogenated products will from hazardous components on decomposition, and Phosgene is NOT the only hazardous compound formed on thermal decomposition of halogenated solvents.

subarub4
08-06-2011, 12:17 PM
You probably could but throttle body cleaner is alot more expensive than brake cleaner ...


well I have pretty much a half of can of throttle body cleaner left compared to having none of brake cleaner left :rant:

matthew
08-06-2011, 04:27 PM
So are there different applications or reasons for using chlorinated versus non-chlorinated brake cleaner?

bmwpower
08-06-2011, 05:08 PM
Question If I ran out of brake cleaner can I use CRC throttle body cleaner to clean off my flywheel?

I would say yes, but in my experience you will get poor results unless the flywheel is only slightly dirty. Brake cleaner tends to stay around a little longer before vaporizing, helping in the cleaning process.

subarub4
08-06-2011, 06:06 PM
I heard soap and water does good too as long as you rinse it get well after you are all done?

I know I did that to my brakes since they were very oily from the factory.

ptschram
08-06-2011, 06:20 PM
So are there different applications or reasons for using chlorinated versus non-chlorinated brake cleaner?

The chlorinated won't burn, but will contaminate used oil.

They will both remove oil and grease from brake parts and not leave a residue that will negatively impact braking performance.Curmudgeons who whine about the "good old times" will always claim the chlorinated stuff is better!

Exposure to halogenated solvents in academic and industrial environments pretty much killed my kidneys. I can't stand to be around many solvents as I've become so sensitized to them.

whiskeyding
11-14-2012, 11:05 PM
Got brake clean in my eye once. That was a fun night thought I was blind I one eye